BBC Worldwide Appoints New Chief Executive

The BBC's commercial arm ends weeks of speculation that the outgoing head John Smith was readying his exit amid changes being brought in by new BBC director general George Entwistle.

LONDON -- BBC Worldwide is to be run by Tim Davie, currently the BBC director of audio and music, who is elevated to CEO at the broadcaster's commercial arm.

Davie's appointment draws a line under the 23-year-long career of outgoing BBC Worldwide chief John Smith.

Davie has been running the BBC's music division since 2008 having joined the corporation in 2005 as its' marketing director and will take up the new role from Dec.1, the BBC said.

BBC director general George Entwistle said: "Tim [Davie] has done an excellent job leading the BBC Audio & Music division and has a fantastic vision for the opportunities that lie ahead for BBC Worldwide. Building on John’s [Smith] success Tim will now take the BBC’s commercial arm into the next chapter of its development. I am delighted he will be joining the team at this crucial time."

It was only last month that the BBC remained tight-lipped over the future of Smith.

At that time the BBC declined to comment on rumors Smith was readying an exit as part of Entwistle's desire to bring BBC Worldwide closer to its public service broadcasting company at the license fee-funded corporation.

The BBC is now highlighting the fact that Smith's decision to step down from his position is entirely Smith's decision and, according to a spokesperson, "was not part of a wider restructure from the BBC."

Entwistle thanked Smith for "his enormous contribution to the success of BBC Worldwide in recent years."

The director general, appointed in July this year, noted the departing executive had turned the division "into a truly global phenomenon delivering a fantastic financial injection into the BBC every year."

Added Entwistle: "He leaves the company ideally set up for the future challenges it faces in a digital world.”

According to a report in The Guardian, Smith is likely to leave with a £400,000 ($645,000) plus payoff and a pension of almost £4 million ($6.45 million).

BBC Worldwide's revenues have more than doubled and profits quadrupled on Smith's watch since he took up the reins in 2004 following the departure of Rupert Gavin.

In the year to the end of March a record £216m was funnelled back to be invested in the PSB arm of the BBC.

"It has been a huge privilege to lead this powerful business, owned by the BBC that does so much to supplement the licence fee income and takes the BBC brand to audiences around the world," said Smith. "I am extremely proud of what we have achieved over the last eight years but I am excited to be moving on to new opportunities in the commercial world as our revenue and profits reach record highs."

For his part, Davie described BBC Worldwide as an"outstanding business that plays a unique role in building the BBC’s global reputation."

Said Davie: "John’s legacy is a company with a strong performance record, leadership in digital and rising international creative exports. I look forward to leading BBC Worldwide through its next phase of growth, delivering further dividends to the BBC and championing great British content around the world."